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 Post subject: The Tyranny of the Subjective
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:18 am 
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We are living in socially and politically bewildering times. One of the reasons for this is the sheer number of other people’s lives we are touched by on account of exponential developments in communications. The early 21st Century – perhaps specifically the second decade of it – will, I suspect, be remembered for the centrality of the subjective narrative, or what has become known as the ‘lived experience.’

There is nothing wrong with a flourishing of narratives, per se. We all have our stories to tell and, now more than ever, the means with which to tell them. We must, however, remain vigilant. The proliferation of this aspect of the social ecosystem impacts other areas, and granting the subjective narrative sacred status diminishes the power of other important ways of understanding the world.

In a recent post for Arc Digital, Ryan Huber argued that the emphasis placed on personal experience in political activism, such as the role high school students are playing as commentators in the gun control debate, comes at the expense of an emphasis on expertise.


An increasingly individual and emotional interpretation of reality has become the norm in public debates and disagreements, as the opinion of experts  – with a distinctly different kind of “experience” under their belts  – has come to mean less and less.

The primacy of subjectivity is by no means limited to politics. It now permeates the framework through which we have traditionally mediated our competing narratives. Journalism, academia, science, and law are all affected. In short, any institution that exists to accommodate competing perspectives is being undermined by a new paradigm that privileges the subjective ‘lived experience.’ And, in the process, the meta-values which have traditionally enabled us to transcend our differing subjective experiences suffer. Foundational principles such as audi alteram partem (listen to the other side), the presumption of innocence, proportionality, empiricism, and even the rule of law now must bow before the sovereignty of the subjective.


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Audi Alteram Partem

Audi alteram partem is the Latin for ‘listen to the other side,’ or ‘let the other side be heard as well.’ This principle is foundational to our understanding of truth and justice; it is the bedrock of our legal and political systems, and it is indispensable to scrupulous journalism and academic rigor. It can be found in texts dating as far back as Aeschylus’s play The Eumenides, written in the 5th Century BC. Orestes is accused of murder and the Goddess Athena persuades the deities of vengeance who were pursuing him to accept a legal process which will allow all sides to have their say. She decrees that now and forever the court of judges will exist to serve the people.

It is not hard to see how and why this principle became a salient part of what we understand to be a civilized social order. Even squabbling pre-schoolers will feel a sense of injustice if a parent or teacher only listens to one side of their quarrel. This is not because they have been taught the meaning of a Latin phrase like audi alteram partem, but because that phrase articulates an innate grasp of fairness which we are able to intuit from a very young age.

It is nevertheless a principle asked to give way to the sanctity of ‘lived experiences’ with increasing frequency. Safe spaces and no-platforming, for instance, may be the product of benign motivations – to protect subjective narratives from the ‘violence’ of opposing views – but they are the antithesis of audi alteram partem. Instead, they are examples of what Jonathan Haidt, writing in The Atlantic, has called “vindictive protectiveness.” This, of course, tears the very cloth from which academia is supposed to be cut – the weave of thesis and antithesis to produce a synthesis of understanding. The idea that an academic or student should seek to insulate himself from contrary opinion ought to be preposterous, but unfortunately, it no longer is.


http://quillette.com/2018/03/19/the-tyr ... ubjective/

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 Post subject: Re: The Tyranny of the Subjective
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 3:16 pm 
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Bump.....from a few months back....seems relevant somehow :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Tyranny of the Subjective
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:37 pm 
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sorry this anothr list of points rather than a well laid out post.

we have no idea who are new over-lords are, who are introducing this system.

This use of emotion has been part of the playbook. There wouldn't have been Gulf war 1 if the kuwaiti ambassador's daughter didnt cry the 'incubator babies' story.

The true sign of intelligence is to be able to take an alternative point of view and derive conclusions based on them. I give two examples , the guy who said that if diffraction were true, then light would meet at a point on the other side of the sphere. secondly stephen Hawkings nemesis in Oxford (the other professor), who told the young theoretician that if there was a big bang that there would be remnant of it around today, soon afterwards wilson and penzias discovered electromagnetic radiation in the sky no mater here they pointed their antenna.


I dont fully agree with the fact that experts are being sidelined , if this is the case then we are really bypassing the current system faster than the sinking of the steamboat oliver cromwell.

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 Post subject: Re: The Tyranny of the Subjective
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 3:33 am 
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Thing Fish wrote:
sorry this anothr list of points rather than a well laid out post.

we have no idea who are new over-lords are, who are introducing this system.

This use of emotion has been part of the playbook. There wouldn't have been Gulf war 1 if the kuwaiti ambassador's daughter didnt cry the 'incubator babies' story.

The true sign of intelligence is to be able to take an alternative point of view and derive conclusions based on them. I give two examples , the guy who said that if diffraction were true, then light would meet at a point on the other side of the sphere. secondly stephen Hawkings nemesis in Oxford (the other professor), who told the young theoretician that if there was a big bang that there would be remnant of it around today, soon afterwards wilson and penzias discovered electromagnetic radiation in the sky no mater here they pointed their antenna.


I dont fully agree with the fact that experts are being sidelined , if this is the case then we are really bypassing the current system faster than the sinking of the steamboat oliver cromwell.


Well I think the author is referring more to a political movement that seeks to afford primacy to what's termed 'lived experience' over and above objective investigation or evidence based inquiry.

Obviously we've seen numerous examples of it during the course of the abortion debate but in the context of that one id argue that subjective experience is actually relevant to the presentation of one side of the debate. However you also had people stating that life doesn't begin until after birth.....because they say/feel so, regardless of the evidence provided to them.

The concept is now encouraged within the social sciences at University and is embedded within the new activist/issue focussed politics that appears to be taking hold. Easentially, unless you have 'lived experience' of any topic you are deemed not to have the right to engage.

Furthermore, ultimately there is deemed to be no value from seeking to understand an opposing stance. All that matters is your own subjectively lived experience, wants and desires. Democratic compromise is weakness based on the suggestion that all human relations are no more than an exercise in the dissemination or otherwise of Power. Debate itself is a form of oppression based on the fact that those better equipped to engage based on their education or knowledge etc are so simply because of their 'privilege' .

It's basically an assault on rationality, on logic, on knowledge itself and on our ability to create a recognizable shared reality through which we may communicate and make sense of the world. Basically an assault on post enlightenment thought and civilization. And it's only getting warmed up in Ireland.

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